TOKYO – Carlos Ghosn’s new legal team has applied for bail for the ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman, the Tokyo District Court said on Thursday, the latest attempt after a string of requests were denied by judges citing Ghosn being a flight risk.
Ghosn was arrested in November over alleged financial misconduct and remains in detention in a Tokyo jail. Earlier this month, he picked a new team with long-time defense attorney Junichiro Hironaka as a key member to replace Motonari Otsuru, a lawyer who once ran the prosecutor’s office investigating him.
Hironaka’s combative style contrasts with the low-key approach adopted by the media-shy Otsuru.
At his first news conference last week, Hironaka – nicknamed “the Razor” – dismissed the charges against Ghosn as an internal company matter and said Japan was out of step with international norms by keeping his client in jail.
Ghosn switched to an aggressive legal strategy came after his attempts to win bail failed, despite pledging to remain in Japan should bail be granted.
The switch also came just before lawyers were due to sit down with prosecutors and judges for the first time to hash out a schedule for pre-trial discovery meetings, where prosecutors will reveal evidence and submit a list of witnesses.
The 73-year-old defense attorney is reputed for winning high profile cases, including the acquittal of senior lawmaker Ichiro Ozawa on financial misconduct charges. He also helped free a senior bureaucrat, Atsuko Muraki, who was jailed for four months on corruption charges.
Yet, even with greater legal firepower the former Nissan boss faces a criminal justice system where only three out of every hundred defendants pleading not guilty are acquitted. Neither does Japan have a plea deal mechanism that would allow Ghosn to agree to lesser charges for a lighter sentence.
(The story clarifies latest application comes after previous requests were denied)